Restorative dentistry is intended to preserve existing teeth so that they won’t need to be extracted. Parents may think that it’s not a big deal if a baby tooth is lost prematurely, but that’s not the case. The primary teeth still play an important role in nutrition and speech, and they can affect the alignment of the permanent teeth.
Additionally, it’s important to address advanced decay in a tooth before it progresses even further, possibly leading to an abscess or even systemic infection throughout the body.
When a tooth is severely damaged, the ideal outcome is to save it rather than to remove it prematurely, even if that tooth eventually will fall out anyway.
If a restoration is needed, it’s likely to be either a crown or, in a severe case, a root canal. Here’s what you can expect from each of these treatments.
A crown is a tooth-shaped cap that covers the natural tooth in cases of advanced decay. Crowns may be made of a number of materials, including porcelain, ceramics or metal. The dentist will prepare the tooth for the crown to be placed, which may involve drilling to remove decay and contouring the tooth to accommodate the crown. The crown is bonded to the tooth using a dental cement.
When infection has reached the tooth’s core, a root canal is often indicated. Unfortunately, the root canal has garnered a negative reputation among dental patients, but undeservedly so. With improved tools and techniques, today’s dentists can perform root canals with no more discomfort for the patient than a routine cavity filling. During this process, the dentist will access the tooth’s innermost pulp chamber, clear out the infection and seal the chamber with an inert rubber-like substance. After that process is complete, the dentist will place a crown for additional protection for the tooth.
Restorative dentistry can be an option for saving a severely damaged tooth, and in most cases, it’s no more uncomfortable than getting a filling. Parents should discuss any concerns about these treatments with their child’s dentist in advance of the procedure.